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Common pitfalls leaders make in addressing healthcare staffing shortages 

With so many changes happening all at once in the healthcare sphere, it is no wonder that many healthcare executives are spinning their wheels trying to react to the shifts and find quick solutions to limit chaos. Changes in nursing are leaving huge staffing holes that need filling, and it is hard to take the time to ask questions about why those holes exist in the first place. Healthcare leaders know that a thoughtful, planned-out response to organizational transformation and process redesign are the best ways forward but find that they do not have the time or resources to dig deeper into the issues that need addressing.

Here are a few common pitfalls we see healthcare leaders make in reaction to the changes taking place in nursing.

Thinking that once the pandemic is over, things will go back to the way they used to be.

The structural changes in nursing started happening long before COVID-19 hit the world. As we mentioned in our previous post, generational shifts, educational requirements, and travel nursing have all influenced cultural and structural changes for a while now. Longing for a return to normal keeps you stuck in the past rather than embracing new opportunities. Yes, the pandemic opened our eyes to weaknesses in our business models-but also to many new opportunities for change.

Overlooking the underlying causes of exhaustion.

Pizza parties and zen break rooms are a nice touch, but if you think that they will solve the exhaustion of your staff, you will be in for a rude awakening when fatigue gets the better of them, and they continue to resign long after the pandemic slows down. You all have shouldered the worst of the pandemic for over two years now, and experiencing trauma, burnout, depression, and exhaustion is normal. Healing does not come with quick fixes or company-branded gifts.

Your team needs to know they are protected, supported, and valued for who they are and what they do. Employees need to trust in a feedback loop where they are empowered to voice concerns and work together for solutions. Exhaustion is different from being tired – it is a burdensome weight upon weary shoulders that seek support, rest, understanding, and a voice at the table.

Thinking it’s all about pay incentives.

Workers stay because they enjoy the culture, are invested in the team, feel empowered in their jobs, and trust that they will have opportunities to learn and grow. Employees leave when they feel underappreciated, stuck, powerless, disillusioned, and taken advantage of. Pay is not always the driving force of employee retention, but low pay can be a reason for previously happy employees to look for other work. Sure, a competitive and market-rate salary adds value to an organization, but other factors contribute to workplace satisfaction. If the only solution you are focused on is your budget line item, you will lose employees regardless of pay. Leaders need to dig deeper and ask more questions about why employees are resigning – you might be surprised by the answers.

Making decisions in leadership silos.

A blind spot that leaders often have is thinking that they know the underlying challenges employees encounter and use their expertise to fix them. The problem is that most leaders offer solutions without ever talking to their frontline staff. Leaders do not ask enough questions or collect enough data to allow them to assess the real problems.

The very nature of leadership creates silos, and unless you are actively working to gather input and data from all levels of your organization, you might be solving the wrong problem. Nothing erodes trust faster than offering hollow solutions without your employee’s voices at the table. Real change involves empowerment, feedback channels, and teamwork.

Endeavor believes in helping organizations create lasting and sustainable change that increases profit while retaining and recruiting engaged and empowered employees. We bring industry expertise to the table and implement data-driven solutions with artfully executed communications.

Schedule time to talk about the challenges you are facing and how to implement long-lasting solutions together.




Experience Management Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare Employee Experience, Operational Excellence, Organizational Transformation, Strategic Org Renewal, Strategy Alignment and Implementation, Workforce Development

Michael Shook Executive Vice President

I lead the Organizational Performance Business Unit at Endeavor Management. Our passion is to help organizations perform optimally by enhancing the leadership’s...

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